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Earth’s Melting Ice Can Now Be Tracked By The Satellite That NASA Is Launching

The ICESat-2 will zoom above the planet at 7 km per second (4.3 miles per second), completing an orbit around Earth in 90 minutes.

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NASA to send tissue chips to space to test human health, genetic changes. Flcikr
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NASA is set to launch its Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2 — that will track Earth’s melting poles and disappearing sea ice — on Saturday.

The satellite with a three-year mission is scheduled to launch at 8.46 a.m. EDT on September 15, with liftoff aboard a Satellite Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2), the US space agency said in a blog post late on Tuesday.

ICESat-2 is the NASA’s most advanced laser instrument — the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, or ATLAS.

It measures height by precisely timing how long it takes individual photons of light from a laser to leave the satellite, bounce off Earth and return to the satellite.

NASA, Polar Ice
ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica. Flickr

The satellite will provide critical observations of how ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice are changing, leading to insights into how those changes impact people where they live, NASA said.

ICESat-2’s orbit will make 1,387 unique ground tracks around Earth in 91 days and then start the same ground pattern again at the beginning.

While the first ICESat satellite (2003-09) measured ice with a single laser beam, ICESat-2 splits its laser light into six beams making it better to cover more ground (or ice).

The arrangement of the beams into three pairs will also allow scientists to assess the slope of the surface they are measuring, NASA said.

NASA
ICESat-2 is the NASA’s most advanced laser instrument Pixabay

Further, the ICESat-2 will zoom above the planet at 7 km per second (4.3 miles per second), completing an orbit around Earth in 90 minutes. The orbits have been set to converge at the 88-degree latitude lines around the poles, to focus the data coverage in the region where scientists expect to see the most changes.

Also Read: AI Helps Find Source Of Radio Bursts 3 Billion Light Years Away From Earth

All of those height measurements result from timing the individual laser photons on their 600-mile roundtrip between the satellite and Earth’s surface – a journey that is timed to within 800 picoseconds, NASA said. (IANS)

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The Aborted Mission To Relaunch In December: NASA

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched.

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Astronaut Anne McClain, left, is seen during training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas. VOA

The American astronaut who will hitch the first ride on a Russian rocket since last month’s aborted launch and dramatic emergency landing is confident that her scheduled trip in December on a rocket that she calls a “workhorse” will go smoothly.

Astronaut Anne McClain, along with a Russian cosmonaut and a Canadian astronaut, will man the Dec. 3 mission. It will be the Russian-made Soyuz-FG’s first crewed flight since Oct. 11, when U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and a Russian cosmonaut landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe after the rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff.

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Specialists watch broadcasts from the Soyuz spacecraft showing astronaut David Saint-Jacques of Canada, Oleg Kononenko of Russia and astronaut Anne McClain of the U.S. attending the final qualification training for their upcoming space mission in Star City near Moscow, Russia. VOA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, though the agency has announced plans for test flights carrying two astronauts on commercial rockets made by Boeing and SpaceX next April.

“I do see the incident that happened on Oct. 11 with our launch abort not as a failure but as a success,” McClain told Reuters in a telephone interview from Russia. “It actually bolsters my confidence in the rocket and in the processes that we have.

“We’re confident in the vehicle and getting back to it,” McClain said of the Soyuz rocket, which she called “the workhorse of the space program.”

After lifting off from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur last month, a damaged sensor caused one of the rocket’s three booster stages to separate improperly, falling inward on the rocket and jolting it off its ascent two miles above ground, Russian investigators announced earlier this month.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

During Assembly

Video from inside the capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, their arms and legs flailing. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin can be heard saying, “That was a quick flight.”

The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a crewed Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

Also Read: NASA Grants $7 Mn For New Life Detection

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has said that it could have been made deliberately by someone during manufacturing or while the craft was in space.

McClain and two other crewmates will launch from the same launchpad in Baikonur, joining the space station’s current three-person crew. (VOA)